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World U-18 roundup: Canada tops Sweden in opener

by Staff

Jake Virtanen, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft, scored two goals as Canada opened the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with a 3-1 win against Sweden on Thursday at Imatra Arena in Imatra, Finland.

Mathew Barzal also had a goal for Canada and goaltender Mason McDonald made 24 saves.

Gustav Forsling scored for Sweden.

Virtanen, who plays for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League and is No. 6 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for this year's draft, opened the scoring 6:45 into the first period. He made it 2-0 with a power-play goal 1:03 into the second period.

Forsling, a defenseman who plays for Linkoping's team in Sweden's junior league and is No. 25 on Central Scouting's final ranking of the top European skaters, scored a power-play goal at 10:57 of the second to make it a one-goal game.

That was as close as Sweden would get as McDonald, who plays for Charlottetown of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, shut the door. He is No. 2 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goaltenders.

Barzal, a prospect for the 2015 draft, closed the scoring with a goal 3:07 into the third.

Canada, which won the gold medal at last year's tournament, next plays Saturday against Germany. Sweden next plays Russia on Saturday.

Switzerland 4, United States 2 -- Jack Dougherty and Kyle Connor scored early for the U.S., but Switzerland rallied for the win with three goals in the third period in a game played at Lappeenranta Arena in Lappeenranta, Finland.

Kevin Fiala, No. 3 on Central Scouting's final ranking of the top European skaters, scored the tying goal and set up the winner. Denis Malgin scored two goals, including the game-winner.

The U.S. led 2-1 after two periods but Switzerland took over in the third.

"We told the guys to stay patient and keep them on the outside and away from the slot, that we would get our chances," Switzerland coach Manuel Celio told the IIHF website. "Players sacrificed, blocked shots. Hockey's pretty simple if you do those things, but you still have to do them."

Fiala, who plays for HV 71 in the Swedish Hockey League, finished a 2-on-1 break with Malgin to tie the game 46 seconds into the third, and Malgin put Switzerland ahead when he knocked the rebound of a Fiala shot past goalie Alex Nedeljkovic with 3:30 left in regulation. Malgin closed the scoring with his second goal with 11 seconds remaining.

Nedeljkovic, who plays for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, is No. 4 among North American goalies on Central Scouting's final rankings. He finished with 16 saves on 19 shots.

Dougherty, a defenseman with the United States National Team Development Program and No. 30 among North American skaters, opened the scoring with a power-play goal 5:13 into the game. After Switzerland's Damien Riat scored to tie it at 11:55, Kevin Connor put the U.S. ahead at 15:42.

"They played a good hockey game," U.S. coach Danton Cole said. "They defended well, worked really hard and were opportunistic. That's a blueprint for winning any game."

The U.S. next plays Saturday against the Czech Republic, while Switzerland plays Saturday against Finland.

Russia 3, Slovakia 2 (OT) -- Kirill Pilipenko scored his second goal of the game 22 seconds into overtime to lift Russia in a game played at Imatra Arena.

Russia started the extra period with a power play after Slovakia's Erik Cernak had been whistled for delay of game with 1:35 left in regulation.

Evgeni Svechnikov also scored for Russia and goalie Alexander Trushkov stopped 15 of 17 shots.

Patrik Maier and Kristian Pospisil scored for Slovakia.

Russia plays Sweden on Saturday and Slovakia's next game is Saturday against Canada.

Finland 6, Denmark 1 -- Mikko Rantanen had a hat trick to key the host country's opening-day victory in a game played at Lappeenranta Arena.

Kasperi Kapanen, Central Scouting's top-rated European skater, had a goal, as did defenseman Sebastian Aho, No. 9 on the list of European skaters.

Aho, who plays for Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League, started the scoring 4:21 into the game and Finland never was challenged. Finland outshot Denmark 41-11 for the game.

Finland next plays Saturday against Switzerland, while Denmark returns to the ice Friday against the Czech Republic.

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